The SciData program addresses, assesses, and meets the increasing complex needs of science data management. I am one of the 8 scholars that have the opportunity to lead the way with our strong science backgrounds and/or interests to build specialties in digital data curation with an emphasis on scientific data publishing. My background is agriculture. The SciData program gave me a framework to tie in to, a ready-made cohort to work with and seek support from, and direction while affording latitude for initiative.
Experiences in the SciData program, or that came about directly from my involvement in the SciData program include the summer course in London in 2013 which focused on e-publishing, a poster I presented at IAALD, my research project focused on scientific data management at the USDA, and my work with the foodshed assessment and the database for APAC.
Agriculture has its own challenges, and as a farmer, I know first-hand how to handle the variables and challenges that enter into collecting and recording data in the field; if one of my cows loses an identifying ear tag, it creates annoyances if she is healthy, and I can visually identify her. However, if the tag loss is not rectified, compounded by a sick or dead animal, it could mean total destruction of the herd. From a data collection standpoint, it can invalidate data sets and years of research. Sustainability of any system requires balance and finding the appropriate balance between the needs of the user and maintenance of resources requires careful thought and understanding of the entire system. The systems of farming, information management, and policy are disparate, but intersect in very specific ways, and each has its own needs, but still must be able to interface with the other systems. Digital data curation, in particular, needs people strongly versed in specific knowledge to address the distinct needs of those areas. With my background as a farmer and a librarian and the training I have received in the SciData program, I am uniquely positioned to address the needs of agriculture data curation.